MERRILLVILLE | Times No. 9 Merrillville showed more fight than it did Monday against Andrean, but one big mistake can often prove to be a team’s downfall.
In the Pirates’ case, that mistake was a foul that led to a goal off a free kick from No. 8 LaPorte’s Josh Aaron, breaking a 2-2 tie. The Slicers then continued the momentum for a 5-2 win in Duneland Athletic Conference play.
“We kind of fell asleep on that free kick, and it’s like somebody pulled the kill switch,” Merrillville coach Brian Past said of Aaron’s free kick, which was taken while the Pirates were out of position.
“Even though it was 3-2, you would have thought we were down 10-2.”
Aaron would end up with two goals and two assists, and the Slicers had plenty of offensive opportunities as a whole.
“He’s a player,” LaPorte coach Chris Buresh said of Aaron. “I thought he had some good support from a few other guys who helped him out a little bit. (Merrillville) was scheming against him and trying to shut him down. He did some nice things, but guys provided for him.”
It didn’t take long for Merrillville (0-3, 0-1 DAC) to tie the game up 2-2 early in the second half, as Nick Enghofer uncorked a rocket past LaPorte goalkeeper Carter Huber less than five minutes after the break.
With the Slicers (1-1-1, 1-1 DAC) aiming to take a lead before halftime, Michael Gazdick found the net to go up 2-1 with 14:05 left before the break.
LaPorte struck first on a goal from Aaron early in the first half, but the Pirates fought back midway through the half to knot it up 1-1 when Miguel Lagunas found the net.
“I thought our defense was shaky tonight,” Buresh said. “We didn’t clear the ball very well out of the back, and we left a few opportunities wide open for them. Luckily, they only took advantage of two.”